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Neurodevelopmental Learning Profiles

All students come to school wired with their unique “neurodevelopmental profiles.” Such profiles are, in essence, balance sheets of individual strengths and weaknesses in underlying brain functions. Some students have strengths that make them strong achievers at six years old, but weak performers in high school. Others may have early difficulties and find success in later years. Just as expectations change over time, so do students' performance.

In order to better understand how students' profiles affect their learning and performance at any time, Success in Mind assesses students across eight "neurodevelopmental constructs." Constructs are groupings of related neurodevelopmental functions. They help to organize thinking and create a common language to understand learning differences. Using neurodevelopmental constructs also allows us to pinpoint specific breakdown points in learning and create specific strategies for helping students succeed.

“…After I read A Mind at a Time, I realized that no diagnosis, medication or school of thought was going to magically transform my son into an ordinary child that would fit into society’s pigeon holes.  What we needed to do was celebrate his uniqueness and find ways to bring out his strengths.  That is exactly what we got at Success in Mind.  Although the expertise and professionalism of the staff there in Durham, NC was impressive, what touched me the most was their compassion and the ease with which they accepted and validated my son.”

- Amy Jeffrey, Parent of 4th grader

The constructs used to organize students' profiles are listed below:

  • Attention: Attention is more than just "paying attention." It includes such aspects as the ability to concentrate, to focus on one thing rather than the other, to finish tasks one begins, and to control what one says and does.
  • Temporal-sequential Ordering:  Whether it's being able to recite the alphabet or knowing when to push a button to give a response on "Jeopardy," being able to understand time and sequence of various items or pieces of information is a key component of learning.
  • Spatial Ordering: Closely related to the functions of time and sequence, spatial ordering is the ability, for instance, to distinguish between a circle and a square or to use images to remember related information. On a more complex level, spatial ordering helps musicians "see" a piano keyboard, and enables architects to "imagine" the shape of a particular room.
  • Memory: Even if, in the moment, people are able to understand, organize, and interpret the most complex information, if they cannot store and then later recall that information, their performance often suffers dramatically.
  • Language: Being able to articulate and understand language is central to the ability to do well as students and learners. Developing language functions involves elaborate interactions between various parts of the brain since it involves so many separate kinds of abilities - pronouncing words, awareness of different sounds, comprehending written symbols, understanding syntax, and telling stories.
  • Neuromotor Functions: Whether students are trying to write their first words, catch a football, or punch away at a computer keyboard, their brains' ability to coordinate their motor or muscle functions are key to many areas of learning.
  • Social Cognition: One of the most often overlooked components of learning is the ability to succeed in social relationships with peers, parents, and teachers. Students (and adults) may be strong in other construct areas, and yet have academic difficulties because of an inability to make friends, work in groups, or cope effectively with peer pressure.
  • Higher Order Cognition: Higher order cognition involves the ability to understand and implement the steps necessary to solve problems, attack new areas of learning, and think creatively.
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